the jane austen industry

Download (24)Alexandra Mullen at The Hudson Review:

Even Jane Austen devotees might have reached peak saturation in 2017, the bicentenary of her death, which, since her novels were published late in her life, follows on the bicentenaries of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park(1814), and Emma (1815). And, since Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published together posthumously in 1818, there is another bicentenary this year. It would be a shame if some of the critical and popular work on her gets buried, because a remarkable percentage of writers on Austen are terrific: clear, passionate, informative, insightful, and very often good writers to boot.

In the 135 years since the first dissertation on Jane Austen appeared in 1883, scholarship on Austen has grown apace. By around the end of the First World War, large contours of the landscape had been shaped: Austen as moralist and humorist, Austen’s use of contemporary thinkers, Austen as cool-eyed artist. By the Second World War, the territory had expanded to include linguistic issues, such as Austen’s narrative experimentation and use of irony. Starting in the sixties, explorations into her juvenilia, letters, and manuscripts turned scholars back to revisit much of this ground; since the eighties, the application of various theoretical tools—historicist, political, postcolonial, feminist, narrative and so forth—have tested the soil samples with ever increasing intensity.

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